Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), and Andy Kim (NJ-03) announced that their provision to waive federal recoupment efforts for Superstorm Sandy victims passed the U.S. House of Representatives today. The provision is included in a federal spending bill and grants the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development the authority to waive the requirement for New Jersey homeowners to pay back federal disaster relief aid.
These recoupment efforts known as “clawbacks” have blindsided homeowners because many New Jersey residents applied for loans and benefits offered by various federal programs at the recommendation of the government. The spending bill would indefinitely delay the federal government’s recoupments efforts – affecting 1,813 households in New Jersey that currently owe $73 million. Among those homeowners, 882 households would be eligible for full forgiveness – worth over $28 million – subject to Secretary approval.
“Superstorm Sandy decimated New Jersey families and towns, and they are still on the hook for millions of dollars through no fault of their own,” Pallone said. “During this time of economic uncertainty, it’s simply unfair for federal agencies to ask for repayment on tens of millions of dollars in loans and grants from Sandy. That’s why I helped lead the fight to secure this important financial reprieve for our state. I want to thank my colleagues in the New Jersey delegation for their work for our state. I’m proud that we were able to secure this relief for our communities in the House-passed spending bill. I will continue fighting to make sure this crucial relief makes its way to the President’s desk.”
“A decade after Superstorm Sandy first made landfall in New Jersey, many families are still burdened with the debt taken on to repair their homes. Last year we were able to cancel loans for many municipalities struggling under the threat of repayments,” said Watson Coleman. “This year I’m proud to have worked within the Appropriations Committee to provide relief for debt to eligible homeowners still facing burdensome payments. I’m grateful for the work of my New Jersey colleagues Frank Pallone and Andy Kim for their continued advocacy on this issue.”
“It’s been nearly a decade since Superstorm Sandy devastated homes and communities throughout New Jersey. Some of my neighbors are still dealing with the physical and financial tolls. Today, I’m glad to vote to pass a funding bill that will get them some much needed debt relief,” said Kim. “Our country’s budget should reflect our values as a nation, and in this funding bill I’m proud that we’re prioritizing homeowners in my district that have been struggling for far too long.”
Last March, Pallone and his colleagues secured a two-year delay in recoupment efforts in the Omnibus Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill. The two-year delay pushed the deadline back for recoupment from 2023 to 2025. The delay also gave New Jersey the flexibility to complete Rebuild by Design flood mitigation projects in Hoboken, Jersey City, Weehawken, and the Meadowlands. After Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development granted New Jersey $230 million in federal funds for the Hudson River Flood-resilience project and $150 million for the New Meadowlands Flood-resilience project. The two-year extension afforded the state the flexibility to put shovels in the ground and help New Jersey prepare for future storms.